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Dustyfj

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Hi all!
I just bought a place in Carroll county Maryland that I’m hoping to have a small vineyard on. Only problem is I don’t know anything about farming and less about grapes. I’ve had small gardens and fruit trees before but that’s it.
the new house has a south facing hill that the farmer next door uses for hay currently. The size of the field is roughly 4+or- acres. There are vineyards not far from me so I’m hoping that’s a good sign for my soil.
Wish me luck or tell me im crazy, any input is good input.
Thanks
-Dusty
 

salcoco

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I would visit the nearby vineyards to not only gain knowledge on grape growing but what are the best varieties to plant. the vineyard would probably welcome any help you can give while learning grape growing and wine making.
 

mainshipfred

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Let me be the first to call you crazy, LOL! I read posts on the subject and it is way more work than I'm willing to take on. I admire those that do though.
 

Newine

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Hi all!
I just bought a place in Carroll county Maryland that I’m hoping to have a small vineyard on. Only problem is I don’t know anything about farming and less about grapes. I’ve had small gardens and fruit trees before but that’s it.
the new house has a south facing hill that the farmer next door uses for hay currently. The size of the field is roughly 4+or- acres. There are vineyards not far from me so I’m hoping that’s a good sign for my soil.
Wish me luck or tell me im crazy, any input is good input.
Thanks
-Dusty
I started a small vineyard about 8 years ago, a few hundred vines. It is a ton of effort. Suggest reading a bit from Wes Hagen on growing your own. Find in WineMaker magazine, if your not talked out of it have fun. As I said a lot of effort, but can be very rewarding.
 

VinesnBines

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First use this tool: geovine.org/vineyards/. This is a vineyard site evaluation tool for Maryland and Virginia. Use it for your site and use it to see the results you get from the neighboring wineries/vineyards. Find out what varieties the neighboring vineyards grow. Research those varieties and start small. If you can manage to get some viticulture classes; take them. Do not put in 4 acres next spring. I started with 250 vines in 2019 and now have 850. It is work but extremely rewarding if you like farming/gardening/heat/sweat/bugs/frustration/worry/hard work.
 

Dustyfj

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First use this tool: geovine.org/vineyards/. This is a vineyard site evaluation tool for Maryland and Virginia. Use it for your site and use it to see the results you get from the neighboring wineries/vineyards. Find out what varieties the neighboring vineyards grow. Research those varieties and start small. If you can manage to get some viticulture classes; take them. Do not put in 4 acres next spring. I started with 250 vines in 2019 and now have 850. It is work but extremely rewarding if you like farming/gardening/heat/sweat/bugs/frustration/worry/hard work.
thanks for the input. I keep getting an error message when I try to generate a report on my field. I’ll keep playing with it.
How many vines is good to start with? I’ve got three teens living at home that can help with some of the heavy lifting. I was thinking maybe two rows? I’ll do some measuring and see how many vines that works out to.
as far as heat/sweat/hard work I’m pretty much a glutton for punishment.
Here’s a pic of the field from a few nights ago. It looks flatter in the picture than it is.
B2237386-5C56-4C06-985C-01A07F3A166C.jpeg
 

VinesnBines

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Pictures are deceiving; I have 15 to 25% slope. A couple hundred vines can be handled with a riding lawn mower, hand sprayer, hand tools. Though if you plan on more than a couple hundred vines you’ll have to consider a tractor and spacing for using the tractor. Think about how whether you are going to make wine or try to sell grapes. It takes 16 lbs of grapes to make a gallon of wine. Varieties are different on yield but a good rule of thumb is 20 vines for 5 gallons of wine. You won’t/shouldn’t plan on grapes until the 3rd or 4th year. You have a lot to think about. I didn’t mention money. Vines run about $4 to $5 (in bulk of 50 or more). Trellis posts are about $10 each. Then there is wire, tensioning ratchets; chemicals, sprayers...the list goes on.0BDA23BA-4DAE-422D-9753-E99B3DDAC252.jpeg
 

Dustyfj

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Pictures are deceiving; I have 15 to 25% slope. A couple hundred vines can be handled with a riding lawn mower, hand sprayer, hand tools. Though if you plan on more than a couple hundred vines you’ll have to consider a tractor and spacing for using the tractor. Think about how whether you are going to make wine or try to sell grapes. It takes 16 lbs of grapes to make a gallon of wine. Varieties are different on yield but a good rule of thumb is 20 vines for 5 gallons of wine. You won’t/shouldn’t plan on grapes until the 3rd or 4th year. You have a lot to think about. I didn’t mention money. Vines run about $4 to $5 (in bulk of 50 or more). Trellis posts are about $10 each. Then there is wire, tensioning ratchets; chemicals, sprayers...the list goes on.View attachment 64117
Good looking vineyard.
Should I plan on building trellises over the winter and planting in the spring? Should I be doing anything besides research now?
should I be collecting/growing shoots now?
 

VinesnBines

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Trellis construction depends on how you are going to prepare your ground. With our steepness and heavy clay, we used a tractor and post hole digger. First year we goofed and waited to dig post holes until after we planted. That was a mistake; we can’t dig with the tractor so I’ve used metal post for a temporary measure while we hand dig post holes. This year we dug vine holes and trellis holes at the same time and we are building trellis after planting. If you plow the ground, you can build your trellis first.
Right now learn and plan. Take soil samples and lime if required. Order vines this fall and plant in early spring.
 

Rice_Guy

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Grape growing will be work every week to manage the diseases, ,,,, I spray at least every nine days. You are in a warm high humidity area so you will get this too. In looking at scope it will be informative checking some of the “what disease is this?” posts on WMT or read posts by @Dennis Griffith.
To make spraying reasonable I would put the break point between hand spray and something with a small pump at 50 plants.
Using Midwest varieties, the more vinifera like, the more disease, ie concord, Niagara, briana are easier than petite pearl, itasca, Frontenac
catalogue descriptions gloss over some facts ex edelweiss will fall off the vine at 16 brix which forces one to pick early. ,,, WMT has folks who have tried everything and can give honest negatives as well as positives. ,,, Visiting wineries that grow grapes should be done, I have found lots off the interstate when going through Pa. you will be tasting grape varieties and trying to talk to the owner about vines. ,,, Is there a club which is within an hour?

All that said you will have a pretty addition to the land even if you don’t get to harvest anything, grapes are hard to kill.
 

Dustyfj

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Did some rough measuring of the planing area, leaving room for a pick up to ride the perimeter. Looks like my field is closer to 2.5 acres.
What is a reasonable yield to expect if the whole field was planted and established?
I did some googling and got numbers back all over the place. 8CF8E3E5-35E6-4C86-8F25-979B3FCA4BBC.jpeg
 

cmason1957

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I always think you will get something like 4 Tons per acre, so you are looking at something like 10 Tons. Now that's a seat of the pants rough guess number, knowing very little about what type of grapes you are planting, but it might be close. and then you can expect about 160 gallons from a ton of grapes (more or less), so you might be looking at 1,600 gallons of wine, that's quite a bit, something like 66 cases. all that's provided I did the math in my head anywhere close to correct.
 

mainshipfred

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One thing I don't think anyone mentioned is the direction of the rows. It was always my understanding the rows should run North/South. I think it's because both sides will get as even amount of sun of sun as possible.
 

Dustyfj

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I bought one of those cheapo ph meters and some distilled water. I took a few samples around the field and most all came back between 5-6. Most at 5.5. Not sure if the recent rain earlier today is driving the number down.21099BFB-3A08-44C9-B25B-6BBA595AEC43.jpegDF1D265B-7FAE-4C78-BB42-18875F51DD20.jpeg
 

montanarick

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One thing I don't think anyone mentioned is the direction of the rows. It was always my understanding the rows should run North/South. I think it's because both sides will get as even amount of sun of sun as possible.
That seems to be the general consensus, for flat ground from what I've read, but I've seen all kinds of variations. Most commercial vineyards run their rows in an uphill/downhill orientation as it's easier for equipment to go up and down versus across the slope. In my own vineyard which is on a hillside, I started out across the slope. As I've increased the size of the vineyard, I've just continued that placement. For me it's easier to walk the vineyard across the slope versus up and down the hill. Rows actually run in a northeast to southwest orientation - so they get pretty much equal amounts of sunlight on both sides of rows this time of year when the sun is high in the northern sky.
 

Dustyfj

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After looking at the county plat again, my lot has an East, southeast hill. The yellow arrows show the increasing hill towards the dry creek bed at the bottom. I favor the green option for planting rows because it’s a more pleasing view from the house and running equipment straight up and down a hill seems easier than trying to create terraces for the rows. But the purple orientation seems to follow the north south row pattern that seems to be best practice for planting rows.

FWIW I was chatting with a guy at one of our local vineyards and he was saying, since we are so far to the north in the hemisphere the sun is always to our south. He favors East west rows to maximize sunlight onone side all day. They had what looked like a lawn mower arm attachment for the tractor to trim all the leaves off of the vines on a given side.

I’m wondering if it makes a huge difference? Are we talking a yield of 10.5 tons vs 9.9 tons? I don’t have any experience to know.
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